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 Peak(s):  Stormy Peaks - 12,148 feet
 Post Date:  03/27/2013 Modified: 02/25/2014
 Date Climbed:   03/17/2013
 Posted By:  kimo
 Additional Members:   floyd

 Ghosts in the Mist   


Ghosts in the Mist: In Search of Stormy Peaks





Images by Kimo & Narrative by Anna








Stormy Peaks - 12,148'
Rocky Mountain National Park & Comanche Peak Wilderness



Step, breathe. Step, breathe. Repeat sequence 22 times… 23 - 24 - 25. I look up and through the biting wind and swirl of snowflakes, I spot Kimo in red.
He gives me a silent thumbs up. I glance briefly at the ridge beyond my current position and where I imagine the distant, but hidden summit might be.
The cold air has yet to sink into my bones and in the wind-driven snow, I find pure delight. I return the unspoken gesture with a mittened thumbs up.
We move through the snowstorm like ghosts in the mist, closing the gap between material and myth. Winter's last breath surrounds me. I am home.




Our First Attempt


Saturday, March 9, 2013








It's snowing hard when we arrive at the Dunraven Trailhead outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. It's about 9 am, and we've got 7 miles of trail ahead of us.








Some people enjoy their weekends with a game, shopping, running errands, and partying. We carry full burdens on our backs, sleep outdoors
in the bitter cold surrounded by wild animals doing who knows what, and we push ourselves to stand on mountains that could care less.
And yet in some crazy way we enjoy this.







The next 7 miles will lead us through 2 Wilderness areas: the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area and the RMNP Wilderness Area.
The weekend forecast for big snow has us hoping that we won't have to dig our cars out upon our return.








Joining us for this crazy weekend is fellow mountain loon Scot “Snow Plow” Osborne, who is desperate to get his monthly mountain medicine.
Scot's an all-around good guy and a great partner. We all share a few laughs before shouldering our packs and heading into the woods.







Hiking in falling snow has its merits.










We get away without flotation in the fresh powder for miles before the postholing becomes deep enough to warrant snowshoes.
Unfortunately, snowshoes in this kind of snow aren't all that effective.








We find ourselves at “Happily Lost”. We're not lost, but we're definitely happy – a nearby privy and unfrozen water source at the creek is luxury winter camping.








Time to set up camp and enjoy a warm meal.











Sunday, March 10, 2013



After a day and night of snowfall, we're pleased to see blue skies in the morning.








Up the snow-covered trail we go.








The trenching alternates between easy and awful. We mostly follow the trail with a slight detour to avoid a sketchy section.








We rejoin the trail and eventually find ourselves at the Lost Lakes/Stormy Peaks split. The Stormy Peaks campsite is 1 mile away,
but the next half-mile is grueling. Even with snowshoes, we're past our knees in fresh powder.








We alternate the chore of trail-breaking until, what seems like an eternity later, we reach another sign that taunts us with the knowledge
that we've only gone half a mile.









We're not ready to throw in the towel yet. Between the three of us, there's a whole lot of stubborn.







But a short bit of trail-breaking later, we're up to our waist...with snowshoes. One by one, we admit defeat. There's still a ways to go before treeline,
not to mention the work it would take to gain the still hidden summit. We turn our backs on Stormy Peaks with regret,
but knowing we made the right decision.








On our way down, we realize that we haven't just built a trench, we've built a canyon. And the gears are already turning. No one wants to waste
the effort we've put into building this trench.









As for this weekend, we'll just have to settle for the prize of fresh air, a beautiful place, and great company. We pack up and walk out under
sunny skies. Yesterday was Winter, but today it seems that we've found Spring.
















Our Second Attempt


Saturday, March 16, 2013




One week is not enough time to fade the memory of the 7-mile pack-in to Happily Lost. Scot can't make it this weekend so we set out on our own.
We shoulder our loaded packs, and with a grunt we begin the long walk into the wilderness.












Memory has yet to fade, but nature is quick to change. Much of the snow from the previous week's storm has vanished at the lower elevations.









We march past familiar landmarks; miles fade with uncounted footsteps. The heat of spring warms us as we wait for a Winter storm that may not arrive.

















Eventually, a wooden signs greets us with the news that we are “Happily Lost” again.







We begin the routine of settling into our evening's shelter. There is a tent to set up, fresh water to pump, and a warm meal to eat.













The night is quiet – a testimony to the truth of Winter.


















Sunday, March 17, 2013



“It's 5:15,” relays a curiously alert voice from the other side of the tent. I am not quite ready to admit defeat to wakefulness and do all I can
to remain in the warmth of my cocoon. But time fades fast and we have a long day ahead - fueled, packed, and snowshoes adorning our booted feet, we walk.















Our hard-fought trench is in good shape despite a week's neglect and we make good time upward to the end of our tracks. Now to begin the work of today.











Above our trench, the snow remains deep and is a bit easier to manage through than the previous weekend.
We inspect a treeless bowl – one whoomph is enough to send us back to safer terrain.











The trees shelter us from the brunt of Winter, but we can hear its voice in the howling wind and feel its touch in snowfall.
Stormy Peaks is living up to its name.







We are stunned at our first glimpse of the mountain; it appears much further away and higher than we expected.
The map in our hands does little to fully tell the story of Stormy Peaks.







Trees merge with snow-covered willows and then both yield to the stark grace of tundra.











We discuss our options and reluctantly consider abandoning our quarry for an attempt at a lower peak nearby. Above the trees, we are fully enveloped
in Winter's embrace. Should we choose to continue to the summit of Stormy Peaks, we will be at the mercy of Winter for some time yet.
Almost as if sensing our withdrawal, Winter's storm abates for a brief moment, enticing us further. Stormy Peaks is no longer just a name on the map
to us anymore, but a tangible entity. We press on. Reaching treeline is not as difficult a chore as we anticipate, avoiding the willows as best as possible.
We take a moment to cache our snowshoes at treeline and beeline for the windy slopes ahead.









Step, breathe. Step, breathe. Repeat sequence 22 times… 23 - 24 - 25. I look up and through the biting wind and swirl of snowflakes, I spot Kimo in red.
He gives me a silent thumbs up. I glance briefly at the ridge beyond my current position and where I imagine the distant, but hidden summit might be.
The cold air has yet to sink into my bones and in the wind-driven snow, I find pure delight. I return the unspoken gesture with a mittened thumbs up.
We move through the snowstorm like ghosts in the mist, closing the gap between material and myth. Winter's last breath surrounds me. I am home.







Up we go. The ridge greets us and we are surprised by the number of rocky outcroppings upon it. “Is that it?” becomes the question of the day.















Finally, “the summit” becomes the summit. We are grateful to be in this place despite the difficult conditions. Winter has gifted us with another memorable experience.













There's no time to linger as Winter swirls around us, fashioning an ever-shifting white coat.











We return the way we came and almost reluctantly, find ourselves back in the shelter of the trees, out of Winter's touch.





















Back at camp, we pack our belongings with haste as Winter's storm (and our hunger for Ed's Cantina) intensifies.









The familiar trail flies by. It feels as if we have come full circle – both the start and end of our journey on this trail touched by the cold hand of
Winter snowfall. Back at the car, we enjoy the satisfaction of another safe outing under Winter's watchful eye.









Farewell Winter. We'll see you again next year.












Tale of the tape:
Distance on March 9/10 = 17.5 miles
Gain on March 9/10 = approx 2,800 feet
Distance on March 16/17 = 21 miles
Gain on March 16/17 = approx 4,400 feet


Google Earth image of our GPS track:



 


  • Comments or Questions (22)
BostonBD


Another Beauty!     2013-03-27 06:02:18
Great trip report and fantastic photos!


DanR



A spectacular effort     2013-03-27 06:13:26
And your pictures and narrative convey your feelings well. I'd been wondering about these as winter destinations, so thanks for this.


screeman57


Good lord, people!     2013-03-27 06:52:41
Simply stunning! I'm in awe of you guys. The combination of spectacular photos and great description and narrative make for a truly vicarious experience.


BillMiddlebrook


nice     2013-03-27 06:56:49
Hooray for Snow!!!

Many beautiful shots, Kimo. Love it


Brian Thomas


Yay RMNP     2013-03-27 08:26:57
Calendar winter snowflake icons are so overrated. This trip report rocks.


MtnHub


Stormy Peaks, indeed!     2013-03-27 08:28:23
Perseverance wins! Super trek people! And as always, a joy to read and view your images! Thanks for the trip!


MonGoose


     2013-03-27 09:03:00
I really enjoyed the photos.


michaelgrundy


Amazing!     2013-03-27 10:32:40
Love your pictures and the way you presented your tale! Keep up the great work!


Monster5


Where's the puking smiley?     2013-03-27 10:36:57
You guys are writing joint reports now?? That's like internet PDA. Blehhh.

(nice report; aptly named peaks)


emohr


Inspiring     2013-03-27 13:22:40
Damn, two of the best trip reports I've read back to back. They make me want to go out and have an adventure myself. Amazing photos. You do a great job of making your trips look so enjoyable


cftbq


Congratulations     2013-03-27 13:39:45
...on keeping your fingers working well enough to take such a trove of very nice photos (not to mention the perseverance...). Ironic that you would be stopped by the deep snow one week, but win out over a snow storm the next!


my5sons


Great Pics     2013-03-27 19:51:55
Love the color in your pics! Great report!


buckeyejes


Thanks for sharing!     2013-03-27 20:29:44
Your pictures are awesome! Thanks for sharing your adventure!


vonmackle



Wow.     2013-03-28 05:17:26
Wow.


Johnson


Sick     2013-03-28 06:55:47
Cool picks... Really cool.


Floyd


Excellent report you guys     2013-03-28 13:54:01
I'm sorry I couldn't join you for both weekends of fun. So, there was actually a photo of Kimo breaking trail? That must have been staged...

Thanks for writing this up and thanks again for wandering out into the blizzard with me!

Looking forward to going back sometime and hoepfully we can get out again soon.


MtnHub


You should change your title     2013-03-28 14:24:57
I read your report quickly at work the other day and after studying it more thoroughly at home, I thought you should change the title to:

Gorillas in the Mist!

The way you animals plowed through that deep snow is amazing! Again, thanks for the post! I loved it!


rambis_21


Awesome     2013-03-28 16:39:16
I just zoned out for 20 minutes going through your trip report. Your pictures stir my imagination and desire to get into the mountains even more now.

Thank you for the trip report!


mtnview

Food Yes Food!     2013-03-28 19:35:43
If anyone has ever earned a good meal in the mountains you two certainly did. Hope you had enough energy to chew your food!


ChrisRoberts


.     2013-03-28 19:45:28
Ive been waiting for this TR since seeing you guys log Stormy Peaks on LOJ! Well done all, those snowless lower elevation shots on the 2nd attempt gave me a smile


kimo

Thanks for the comments...     2013-04-04 08:52:18
Appreciate them all. But I gotta give credit to that beautiful park, the fine weather that contributed greatly to the experience, and my awesome partners. Sometimes everything just comes together, as it did for these trips. Good times for sure.

Doug - over time, I'll be relinking the photos in my past reports. Thanks for letting me know that you enjoy them, and that the links are broken.

-Kimo


globreal


Stellar!     2013-04-07 20:38:59
Great teamwork & tenaciousness on finally getting that summit over two weekends. The photos & prose marry together beautifully....”closing the gap between material and myth.”
It's really nice to have a high end DSLR to get that shallow depth of field, but it's even nicer to see photos from someone who knows how to use it! I love the camp sitet art work.

Now, Kimo you need to share...Anna needs to take more than just one picture of you...especially more than drinking beer!



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